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Rev. Msgr. Robert M. Malene

Deceased: 2024-01-07

Diocese: ERIE

ICTE Spring: 2008

The Reverend Monsignor Robert M. Malene, 77, died January 7, 2024 at Mosaic Gardens Memory Care in Scottsdale, AZ..

Monsignor Malene was born on December 18, 1946 in Oil City, Pennsylvania, the son of Michael and Elizabeth (Hale) Malene.

After attending Siverly and St. Joseph elementary schools, he graduated from Venango Christian High School (now Venango Catholic High School) in 1964. He entered St. Mark Seminary in Erie that same year and studied at Gannon University until 1966. Msgr. Malene completed his formation for the priesthood at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, New York, while attending nearby St. Bonaventure University where he earned his BA and then his Masters of Divinity in 1972.

Msgr. Malene was ordained a priest on May 11, 1972 by The Most Reverend Alfred M. Watson at St. Peter Cathedral, Erie, and began his priestly ministry as Parochial Vicar at Christ the King Parish, Houtzdale. He was released to serve as chaplain in the armed forces in 1977. That same year he was commissioned as a U.S. Naval Officer and attended the Naval Chaplains School in Newport, Rhode Island. He was assigned to various duties, among them: Third Marine Air Wing, Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin, California; the USS Coral Sea; the First Marine Air Wing in Okinawa, Japan; and the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona. He served as the Command Chaplain in three different naval operations: at Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Sicily; at Naval Air Station, Naples, Italy; and at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, California, Maryland.

Msgr. Malene served the troops taking part in both Gulf wars. During the First Gulf War, he served with the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier group and, during the Second Gulf War, he served on the ground in Iraq with the First Marine Division.

His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (twice); the U.S. Navy Commendation Medal (four times) and various other service and campaign medals and ribbons.

After 31 years of service as a chaplain, Msgr. Malene retired from the U.S. Navy in February 2008 with the rank of Captain. After a six-month sabbatical in Rome, he was appointed Administrator of St. Michael Parish, Emlenton, PA. In October 2008, he was assigned Pastor of Good Shepherd Parish, West Middlesex, PA. where he remained until his retirement in February 2017.

In addition to his parochial duties, Msgr. Malene also served the Diocese of Erie in other capacities, including as a member of the Presbyteral Council and the Bishop’s College of Consultors, and as Episcopal Vicar for the Western Vicariate.

He was named a Prelate of Honor with the title of Monsignor on October 27, 1996. During his retirement in Scottsdale, Arizona, he gave sacramental assistance to local parishes.

He is survived by six siblings, Sam (Joanne) of North Canton, Ohio; Jack (Rita) of Ashtabula, Ohio; Peggy (Dan) Bickel, Dan (Sandi) Malene and Mary (Richard) Volkman, all of Scottsdale, Arizona; and Andy (Pamela) Malene of Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Msgr. Malene loved the Church and the U.S. Navy. He rarely missed an Ordination, whether he was on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean or on a Navy base in Sicily. He held a deep appreciation for his Italian heritage and, while stationed in Naples, Italy, he enjoyed spending time with his Italian cousins and hosting extended family. Through the years, he returned to Italy often and facilitated pilgrimages for his church parishioners to visit important religious sites and historical cities. Msgr. Malene was a skilled woodworker, an avid golfer and fisherman, and was an enthusiastic conversationist. He truly enjoyed the company of others and sharing stories.

While pastor of Good Shepherd Church in West Middlesex, he looked forward to taking teens on mission trips to Oil City to work with the Catholic Rural Ministry, repairing homes and cleaning up yards. Similarly, while on sabbatical, he was a gracious mentor to many seminarians who were studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, providing thoughtful advice and encouragement as they entered the Catholic priesthood.

He also enjoyed cooking for and sharing meals with his family and friends, while testing out his homemade wine and liquors – a pastime he picked up while living in Naples. He had a big heart, an infectious laugh, and a ready smile. He will be sorely missed by those who loved him and the many people whose lives he touched as a servant of the Church.

Calling hours at Reinsel’s Funeral Home in Oil City, PA will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday Jan. 14 the night before his Funeral Mass and from 10 to 11 a.m. on the day of his funeral at St. Joseph Church.

The Funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Monday Jan. 15 at St. Joseph Church in Oil City, with Bishop Lawrence Persico as the main celebrant, assisted by Msgr. Malene’s cousin, Sulpician Fr. Ronald D. Witherup P.S.S. Interment will be at St. Michael Cemetery in Emlenton, PA.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made to St. Elizabeth of Hungary Food Bank, 311 Emerald St., Oil City, PA 16301; to the Catholic Rural Ministry,7 Pulaski St., Oil City; or to the Alzheimer Foundation of America, 322 8th Ave., 16th Floor, New York, NY 10001,

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